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Local Development Funds has once again proved their efficiency for biodiversity conservation in Central Asia

19 december 2019
In 2019, as part of the WWF-GLIP program, 15 projects of residents of the high-mountain villages of the Central and Inner Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan received support in the amount of 1.3 million rubles.

The WWF-GLIP project “Creating an Ecological Network in the Central and Inner Tien Shan” is being implemented on the territory of the high-mountain villages of Kyrgyzstan, bordering the Sarychat-Ertash and Naryn Nature Reserves and the Khan-Tengri Natural Park. To achieve the objectives of the project - the protection of wild animals and the conservation of natural ecosystems - a mechanism has been developed to create local development funds (LDF), which provide residents with financial support for the implementation of various projects related to sustainable development. 

In 2019, 77 families received such support. They have prepared 15 projects in the field of ecotourism, the production of felt products, yak and goat breeding, etc. Wool-carding and felting machines are now working stably on local raw materials in the village of Barskaun, , which makes it possible to produce ala-kiyiz (national carpets) and felt for felt products in Akshiyrak settlement as well (previously, local craftswomen bought felt from Bishkek for products.) The total amount of financing amounted to almost 1.5 million soms (1.3 million rubles). 

Before the creation of the local development funds, residents of the high-mountain villages of the Central and Inner Tien Shan were often forced to violate environmental laws due to extremely low incomes. There were no effective approaches to solve the environmental and socio-economic problems in the villages, neighboring  with protected areas. In the conditions of a serious financial deficit, people often survived thank to income generated by poaching. They opposed the nature protective activities of existing protected areas, and even more - against the creation of new ones.

Today, local development funds in three high-mountain villages - Akshiyrak, Enilchek and Tash-Bashat - help to implement environmental and social projects of residents.

A constant source of financing for local communities has already been formed, The members of those local communities increase their knowledge in the field of effective planning, environmental protection and the implementation of social initiatives and get real access to decision-making on improving the quality of their life. The funding from the LDFs is increasing annually, and about 500 people get a regular benefit from their work. The funds also provide social assistance to low-income families and orphans. An important result of their work is a serious reduction  of poaching by the local population  - by 95%! 

“The creation of the LDFs, an active support of local initiatives and, to a large extent, women's groups, not only improves the level of life of the families, but also enhances the role of women in them, thanks to the developing of personal interest of the local population in stopping poaching and protecting rare species - as this is key a condition for receiving assistance for the development of their business,”- commented Olga Pereladova, scientific adviser to the Central Asian WWF program. 

A successful example of the influence of the LDFs on improving the life of local communities and the conservation of ecosystems in the Central and Inner Tien Shan may serve as a model and an incentive for the creation and development of such funds throughout Kyrgyzstan and other countries of Central Asia.

Kyrgyzstan Photo: (c) Anton Agarkov

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For additional information please contact
Central Asia Programme Advisor